This article by Great Browne, member of the Northampton Green Party, goes into great detail about the barriers that third parties face in the United States, specifically in her area of Pennsylvania.
But what is most important to realize is that the barriers aren't stopping third parties from participating, they are stopping YOU, the voter, from participating, from having more choices at the ballot box, and from having representation that works for you.
These two paragraphs sum up the article quite well:
It's no wonder. Election laws like those in Pennsylvania make it difficult for independent candidates to get on the ballot. Once on, a strong third-party candidate must endure undemocratic accusations of being a ''spoiler'' in a winner-take-all system. This sense of entitlement by the two major parties breeds complacency and undeserved long-term incumbency. Reforms -- such as ranked voting (used in the Academy Awards) and open primaries (in Washington state and on the ballot this year in California) -- would allow third parties to garner the votes that represent the true popularity of their positions."Complacency and undeserved long-term incumbency" nearty summarizes the problem. When the same two parties exchange power every election cycle, should we really be so surprised that change does not come, or when it does, it comes by the terms of the special interests that fund the two major parties?
For example, the Green Party has always rejected the war efforts of the U.S. military, believing that our incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, represent imperialistic intentions rather than promotion of democracy. Greens unequivocally support universal single-payer health care and denounce the profit modality of the new health care bill. Greens in Pennsylvania support true clean energy, not ''clean coal'' or the chemical-and-water injecting extraction promoted by the state for our fossil gas deposits in deep shale beds. We believe that protecting our water table and our forest lands trumps temporary economic gain."
The Green Party is striving to change that. All across the country, regular citizens are deciding they have had enough of their votes being held hostage, and their voices being drowned out by special interest.